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Implementing peace and security architecture (II) Southern Africa
October 15, 2012
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Summary and Recommendation
The last part
of Africa to be decolonised, the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) region, remains one of the most peaceful. Yet, despite comprehensive
protocols and agreements, SADC faces acute challenges characterised
by tensions between member states, resource deficits, citizens'
exclusion, social discontent and limited internal and external coordination.
Regional security cooperation requires adept infrastructures underwritten
by political commitment; but the organisation's Secretariat
appears powerless to ensure policy implementation. It must develop
an effective common security policy framework, improve coordination
with international partners, harmonise and clarify its role with
other SADC structures, broaden engagement with civil society, ensure
member-state commitment to African Union (AU) efforts on human and
people's rights and build capacity for evaluation and monitoring.
As long as national sovereignty prevails over regional interests,
however, the success of SADC mechanisms, notably in conflict resolution,
will remain limited.
The region faces
a range of evolving peace and security threats, including maritime
security and piracy, cyber and technology-driven security threats,
and socio-economic unrest. Beyond efforts to respond to these challenges,
policy implementation capacity and information and response mechanisms
are urgently required. SADC's intervention in Madagascar and
Zimbabwe has exposed the region's limited capacity to enforce
agreements it has brokered. Ad hoc and under-resourced mediation
imposes additional burdens and responsibilities on the mediators.
Civil society engagement in SADC processes in the two countries
has been at best tangential, confirming the gulf between the regional
body and its citizens. The Madagascar and Zimbabwe cases also highlight
that structural governance deficits and politicised security sectors
exacerbate conflict. SADC's mediation efforts reveal the complexities
and challenges of dealing with unconstitutional changes in government,
contested elections and violations of the region's electoral
approach to crisis and the absence of a common policy hinder security
cooperation. Member states pursue detached objectives without a
consistent set of principles and policies in this area coordinated
at the regional level. This reinforces their reluctance to cede
authority to a SADC centralised structure. Regional commitment to
the rule of law suffered from the decision of the SADC heads of
state and government to confine the jurisdiction of its tribunal
to interpretations of treaties and protocols relating to disputes
between member states. The decision removes the right to individual
petition, and without an alternate explanation from SADC's
leadership, can be considered a reversal of previous gains in human
security and people's rights.
SADC is keen to establish a mediation unit led by "elders"
appointed by consensus between member states and supported by a
credible and efficient resource team. Though the framework and operational
methodology were approved in 2010, the organisation is yet to implement
it. Regional conflict resolution efforts must incorporate military
diplomacy options to address growing security sector influence in
conflicts and their potential resolution. The establishment of national
committees in each member state will buttress civil society participation
in SADC policy formulation and implementation, as mandated by the
A culture of political solidarity among member states remains, fostered
by a common liberation struggle history and a stated commitment
to non-interference in the internal politics of others. This has
inhibited effective preventive diplomacy and provided justification
for non-engagement in cases of potential conflict and security threats.
Despite the establishment of an early warning system in 2010, it
is not clear if and how SADC utilises the conflict signals arising
in the region and how best this infrastructure could be enhanced.
Decision-making is consensual and rests solely with the heads of
state and government and ministerial committees. The secretariat
is expected to function as SADC's implementing arm, but lacks
capacity and the authority to enforce decisions and is not empowered
to engage in independent diplomatic action to address conflict situations.
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